PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was working on a plan to plant saplings on the banks of the Gandhao Khwar water channel to increase urban forest cover in Peshawar, Amara Khan, director general of Peshawar Development Authority, told a group of environmental experts.

A statement released on Sunday said that the “Gandhao Khwar Trail” starting from Phase 6 and 7 in Hayatabad and culminating at the Board area would attract healthy activities besides mitigating negative effects of climate change.

The plan would follow Miyawaki afforestation method, made famous by Akira Miyawaki, the Blue Planet Award-winning botanist from Japan. He is celebrated for a particular approach to afforestation.

The panel of climate change and environmental experts said that the residents of Hayatabad supported ongoing sustainable development by PDA. In the meeting, it was agreed that a “green board” would be constituted comprising experts and senior citizens as they were a valuable social capital willing to contribute to the welfare of the city.

PDA chief says Gandhao Khwar Trail to mitigate negative effects of climate change

To mitigate the effects of climate change, said the statement, the government initiated urban plantation of millions of shady trees during the monsoon season, including “green projects” undertaken by PDA.

The group of experts said that axing of hundreds of trees along the BRT route contributed to recurring heat waves recently. The concrete and steel infrastructures mega projects invariably contributed to “heat island effect” in urban areas, they added.

The experts welcomed the government’s plan to aggressively carry out urban afforestation. They lauded the PDA’s decision that the illegally allotted green area across the Dean Heights to commercial entities would be restored through a massive afforestation plan.

PDA is expected to revoke the allotment in its next board of directors meeting since it was carried out without its approval by the previous administration.

The experts will share with PDA afforestation work plans with sustainable natural landscaping, promoting habitat and biodiversity, natural irrigation alternatives through rainwater harvesting, gravity downstream canal irrigation and recycling waste water to conserve depleting precious water resources.

They said that it was important to reclaim civic spaces for healthy activities and revive the dilapidated “Ladies Club” in Phase 5 for healthy activities for women.

A pilot project of “Hayatabad green city” could showcase public-public partnership for a greener, cleaner and healthier future, said the statement.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2021

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